Fornalutx: one of the most beautiful villages in Mallorca
Weather in Fornalutx
Fornalutx has not only been named “the most beautiful village in Mallorca” on multiple occasions but also one of the most beautiful in Spain.
Nestled in the heart of the Sierra de Tramuntana, next to the valley of Sóller, in the shadow of the imposing Puig Major, it has managed to preserve its unique mountain village charm almost intact into the 21st century. Its stone houses, winding streets, and staircases adapted to the terrain, along with its iconic buildings, blend with the environment in a way that made it deserving of protection nearly 50 years ago, and it continues to be preserved.
Like many other villages in the Sierra de Tramuntana, its origins are strictly medieval, dating back to some isolated hamlets in the Islamic period and increasing in population after the Christian conquest of the 13th century.
Its inhabitants managed to make the most of the rugged lands surrounding it, creating a unique and beautiful setting in the fantastic natural environment of the Sierra de Tramuntana.
In the 1980s, almost all road traffic was banned in the village, and two parking lots were built at its two entrances.
This way, its roughly 700 inhabitants wouldn’t have their daily lives disrupted by an influx of vehicles, and visitors could leisurely explore its narrow streets, rock-carved staircases, and cobblestone squares with calm and tranquility.
Plants and flowers of all kinds adorn every street, alongside doors and windows, turning Fornalutx into an open garden wherever you look.
But if you venture beyond it through the orange groves or along the paths climbing the mountains, you’ll see a village frozen in time, like a fairy tale or a nativity scene, with its stone houses perched on the hillside. A delight for all the senses.
How to Get to Fornalutx
Fornalutx was doubly isolated. On the one hand, the Sóller Valley has always been surrounded by steep slopes, making car access from any direction arduous.
This changed in 1997 with the opening of the Sóller Tunnel, which, at 3,023 meters, turned the 40-minute arduous drive over the Coll de Sóller into a 3-minute straight-line journey.
Furthermore, Fornalutx is separated from the main route through the Sierra de Tramuntana, so you have to cross Sóller or purposely detour to reach the village.
However, road improvements have made it easier to access this beautiful corner of the Sierra.
How to Get to Fornalutx by Car
From Palma, take the Ma-11 road towards Sóller. After passing through the tunnel, stay on the same road until you reach a roundabout where it intersects with Ma-10, the road that runs through the entire Tramuntana. From there, simply follow the signs to Fornalutx.
From the rest of the island, you have several alternatives.
- The quickest option is to connect with the Ma-13 highway heading towards Palma and take exit 8 towards Bunyola. As soon as you can, follow the signs to Sóller, connecting with the previous route.
- Another alternative is to head to Inca and follow the signs towards Lluc. You will pass through the towns of Selva and Caimari, and after that, you’ll start the mountain road. Shortly before reaching the Lluc Monastery, you’ll come to a gas station, after which there’s an intersection. Take the direction of Sóller until you reach the Fornalutx turnoff.
- A last, very picturesque possibility is to head first to Pollensa, and from there follow the signs to Lluc, traveling along the Ma-10. You will reach the same intersection mentioned earlier, where you’ll head towards Sóller until you reach the fork that leads to Fornalutx.
All of Fornalutx’s urban area is a blue zone (paid parking). There are parking lots at both entrances to the village.
The southern one has around 30 spaces, while the northern access can accommodate about 50 vehicles. It’s advisable not to arrive too late, as they fill up quickly.
If you can’t find parking in Fornalutx, you always have the option to park in Sóller (although most of its urban area is also paid parking) and take a short walk to Fornalutx.
How to Get to Fornalutx by Public Transport
Alternatively, you can reach Sóller on its traditional and centuries-old wooden railway
More of a tourist train, it has infrequent service, so you’ll need to plan your day well.
What to See in Fornalutx
The main reason to visit Fornalutx is to wander its streets, winding and sometimes steep, as is typical in mountain villages.
You can visit its church, originally constructed in the late 14th and early 15th centuries but reconstructed in 1620.
Only the Gothic portal that serves as the entrance to the former cemetery remains from the original building. It houses interesting carvings, figures, and altarpieces from the 15th to the 18th centuries.
The village grew around this church. As in many other places, a defensive tower was necessary.
The Fornalutx tower dates back to the 17th century and is currently located next to the town hall. You’ll also find another typical and characteristic element: the old washhouses (rentadores) where the village’s women went to wash clothes for centuries, and not too many decades ago.
During your walk through Fornalutx, don’t forget to look up to discover a curious medieval tradition that lasted until the 19th century: painted roof tiles (ses teules pintades).
This decorative element, common throughout Mallorca but particularly well-preserved in Sóller and Fornalutx, involved creating designs on the roof tiles that formed the eaves of houses, both for decorative purposes and superstition, to protect the home.
Next to the town hall, you’ll find the small ethnographic museum of Ca’n Xoroi.
This building housed the last olive oil mill in Fornalutx until the 1970s. Acquired by the town hall, it now serves as an exhibition space for a photographic archive of the municipality, and it primarily houses the largest collection of the mentioned teules pintades in Mallorca.
And if you have some time to spare, a 20-minute walk will take you to the village of Biniaraix, located between Fornalutx and Sóller, in the shadow of the Puig de l’Ofre and surrounded by endless orange groves.
What to Do in Fornalutx
The main appeal of Fornalutx is its privileged natural environment and the best way to explore it is by taking some of the numerous hiking routes that crisscross it.
- Route 1: a walk to the Fornalutx comuna, easy, 6 km
- Route 2: a circular route following the channel of the Des Racó stream, moderate difficulty, 8 km
- Route 3: a circular route passing through the possessió of Binibassí and the beginning of the Biniaraix ravine, suitable for children, easy, 9 km
- Route 4: ascent to Puig de sa Bassa, moderate difficulty, 13 km
- Route 5: one of the most typical excursions in Fornalutx, the ascent of the Biniaraix ravine, moderate difficulty, 13 km
- Route 6: round trip to the Torre Picada, a watchtower from 1622 that protects the Port of Sóller, moderate difficulty, 17 km
- Route 7: ascent to Puig de l’Ofre and descent through the Biniaraix ravine, moderate difficulty, 19 km
- Route 8: another classic route, but for prepared hikers, is the ascent of the Biniaraix ravine, reaching Cúber Reservoir, and descending to the Tossals Verds refuge; difficult route, 28 km
For those looking to get started with canyoning, the nearby torrent des Racó offers a perfect place to gain practice.
The road that runs through the Sierra de Tramuntana is highly regarded by cyclists, although it requires a minimum level of fitness.
From Fornalutx, you can embark on several routes, either towards Sóller and then Andratx, or head north towards Pollensa. The road features many lay-bys that serve as rest areas and excellent viewpoints. It’s best to do these routes outside of the high tourist season to avoid heavy car and bus traffic.
Fornalutx likely originated as a small village during the Islamic period, between the 10th and 12th centuries.
The Muslims introduced oranges to Spain from the Far East in the 10th century, and the valley of Sóller had the ideal conditions for their cultivation, so it’s probable that they were the ones who planted this valley with orange trees.
After the Christian conquest, the construction of the Fornalutx church began at the end of the 13th century.
The current town grew around it, forming a municipality with Sóller for centuries.
In the 17th century, the defense tower was built, and the church underwent a profound reconstruction, losing almost all of its Gothic elements and becoming a Baroque church.
In 1837, it was definitively established as an independent municipality, after previous attempts in 1813 and 1820. Nevertheless, geography has always kept it closely linked to Sóller, and until the construction of modern roads in the 20th century, both municipalities lived somewhat isolated from the rest of the island.
Fornalutx escaped the successive tourist booms, preserving its traditional character, which ultimately earned it recognition as one of the most beautiful villages in Spain.
Its idyllic surroundings among exceptionally beautiful mountains offer a unique experience to its visitors.